United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
FINDINGS, CONCLUSIONS, AND RECOMMENDATION OF THE
UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
L. HORAN UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Salina R. seeks judicial review of a final adverse decision
of the Commissioner of Social Security pursuant to 42 U.S.C.
§ 405(g). For the reasons explained below, the
hearing decision should be reversed and this case is remanded
to the Commissioner of Social Security for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
alleges that is she disabled as a result of major depression
disorder, severe anxiety, chronic fatigue, mood disorder, and
post traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”).
See Administrative Record [Dkt. No. 13-1]
(“Tr.”) at 21, 277. Alleging an onset date of
June 9, 2015, Plaintiff filed an application for supplemental
social security income, which the Commissioner initially
denied - and denied again on reconsideration. See
Id. at 140, 150. Plaintiff then requested a hearing
before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”).
See Id. at 156. That hearing was held on November 6,
2017. See Id. at 30. At the time of the hearing,
Plaintiff was 39 years old and had completed high school.
See Id. at 23. Plaintiff has not engaged in
substantial gainful activity since her onset date of June 9,
2015. See Id. at 14. The date until which Plaintiff
will be insured is December 31, 2020. See Id. at 12.
found that Plaintiff was not disabled. See Id. at
24. Although the medical evidence established that Plaintiff
suffered major depression disorder, severe anxiety, chronic
fatigue, mood disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder,
the ALJ concluded that the severity of those impairments did
not meet or equal any impairment listed in the social
security regulations. See Id. at 18. The ALJ further
determined that Plaintiff had the residual functional
capacity to perform
less than the full range of light work as defined in 20
C.F.R. 404.1567(b) and 416.967(b), such that the claimant is
able to lift and/or carry no more than 20 pounds occasionally
and 10 pounds frequently; stand and/or walk six hours of an
eight-hour workday; sit for six hours of an eight-hour
workday with normal breaks. The claimant is limited to no
climbing of ladders, ropes[, ] or scaffolds, and she needs to
avoid exposure to extremes of heat and unprotected heights.
Mentally, the claimant is limited to performing simple,
routine tasks and simple decision making, in an environment
that involves few, if any, workplace changes. Interaction
with supervisors, coworkers, and the public is limited to
occasional, and she requires work with no strict productions
See Id. at 20. As such, the ALJ found that Plaintiff
was not disabled under Medical-Vocational Guidelines because,
given her age, education, and exertional capacity for work,
she was capable of working as a ticket printer and tagger, a
retailer marker, or a hardware assembler - jobs that exist in
significant numbers in the national economy. See Id.
appealed the decision to the Appeals Council, which affirmed
the ALJ's decision. See Id. at 1-5; 247.
then filed this action in federal district court.
See Dkt. No. 1. Plaintiff challenges the hearing
decision on the grounds that the ALJ failed to apply the 20
C.F.R. § 404.1527(c) factors before rejecting
Plaintiff's treating source opinion. See Dkt.
No. 17 at 24.
undersigned concludes that the hearing decision should be
reversed and remanded.
review in social security cases is limited to determining
whether the Commissioner's decision is supported by
substantial evidence on the record as a whole and whether
Commissioner applied the proper legal standards to evaluate
the evidence. See 42 U.S.C. § 405(g);
Copeland v. Colvin, 771 F.3d 920, 923 (5th Cir.
2014); Ripley v. Chater, 67 F.3d 552-55 (5th Cir.
1995). Substantial evidence is “more than a mere
scintilla. It means such relevant evidence as a reasonable
mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion.”
Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401 (1971);
accord Copeland, 771 F.3d at 923. The Commissioner,
rather than the courts, must resolve conflicts in the
evidence, including weighing conflicting testimony and
determining witnesses' credibility, and the Court does
not try the issues de novo. See Martinez v.
Chater, 64 F.3d 172, 174 (5th Cir. 1995); Greenspan
v. Shalala, 38 F.3d 232, 237 (5th Cir. 1994). This Court
may not reweigh the evidence or substitute its judgment for
the Commissioner's but must scrutinize the entire record
to ascertain whether substantial evidence supports the
hearing decision. See Copeland, 771 F.3d at 923;
Hollis v. Bowen, 837 F.2d 1378, 1383 (5th Cir.
1988). The Court “may affirm only on the grounds that
the Commissioner stated for [the] decision.”
Copeland, 771 F.3d at 923.
order to qualify for disability insurance benefits or
[supplemental security income], a claimant must suffer from a
disability.” Id. (citing 42 U.S.C. §
423(d)(1)(A)). A disabled worker is entitled to monthly
social security benefits if certain conditions are met.
See 42 U.S.C. § 423(a). The Act defines
“disability” as the inability to engage in
substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically
determinable physical or mental impairment that can be
expected to result in death or last for a continued period of
12 months. See Id. § 423(d)(1)(A); see also
Copeland, 771 F.3d at 923; Cook v. Heckler, 750
F.2d 391, 393 (5th Cir. 1985).
evaluating a disability claim, the Commissioner conducts a
five-step sequential analysis to determine whether (1) the
claimant is presently working; (2) the claimant has a severe
impairment; (3) the impairment meets or equals an impairment
listed in appendix 1 of the social security regulations; (4)
the impairment prevents the claimant from doing past relevant
work; and (5) the impairment prevents the ...